Wednesday, May 6, 2020

And here we go

So it looks like the world is opening up. I'm not going to lie. I have so many feelings about what is happening that I don't even know where to begin. I am scared. I keep reading news reports and conflicting information. Everything from "COVID-19 was create in a lab",  to "Wear a mask, it's safer", and then "No, don't wear a mask, you'll give yourself the virus!" What the fuck? Then I remember reading books like 1984, The Handmade's Tale, and the Hunger Games Series. Then I go down the rabbit hole and it just becomes a cycle of paranoia, hopelessness and fear.

After I mull though all of that, I try to put my happy face on. It could be worse. I'm still healthy. I need to continue to be a positive force in the world. I have things to create and stuff to do. I'm growing a business. I think that it's going to be ok.

The truth is I really don't know. I go back to work next week. I will re-open my doors to the unknown. I don't know what normal looks like and I have no idea what to expect. I am concerned for my safety and the safety of others. But I also think that if I worry too much I'll die of a stroke first. All I can do is my best and hope that powers above me find their humanity. If we are indeed a giant experiment there is nothing I can do to stop that. I hope that we all show up at the polls this November.

In the meantime, I am going to disconnect from social media as much as I can. I will have to utilize it for my business so it's going to be tricky. I'll have to turn the news off and delete news apps from my devices. Basically I have to live in my bubble and do all of the good I can in the world. I don't have faith in this system. I do think this person that we call the president is terrible. I think most of the politicians are terrible. But I can't help that. What I can do is help me. I planted a garden. I have been exercising outside. I've been enjoying the sun and I have been writing. I will contact my salon guests and begin the arduous task of rescheduling whomever I can. I will listen to music and I will sing as I hope that one day we will do better.

So let's do what we can to be kind to one another. I will do my best not to judge even though it's easy to do. I will do what I can to love and I will live in this life journey one day at a time because it's all I can do.

Peace and love,
Valerie

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

The New Normal?

So I'm feeling better since my last post. I've taken extra measures to try and talk myself off of the ledge. For starters, I am not really looking at social media. If I post, I do it through Instagram. Right now most of my posts are of my three year old nephew, Stone. There's something hopeful about children so instead of being political and angry, I am posting a kid being a kid.

I don't know when I'll be able to go back to work and that's scary. Of course I have applied for so many things in hopes that I receive a little aid but how long that lasts if I get it is anyone's guess. I am disappointed in the way that our leaders are handling this and it's bazaar to me that news briefings have turned into their own form of campaigning. But we are in the new normal then aren't we? I get angry and I feel minuscule. My small life has no bearing and I have been reminded of how insignificant we all are. I have to let that go because it's something I can't control. In fact, this is a solid reminder that I have no control over lots of things.

What has been uplifting is the amount of humanity that is stepping in where our world leaders haven't. so many companies are doing what they can to help small business and to help people in general. Manufacturers are making ventilators and gloves and masks. People that can are donating money to organizations to help those less fortunate. Humans all over are reacting and reaching out to one another. Suddenly, most of us are on the same page.

What has been really weird is that my days are all blurring together. This really is like Ground Hogs Day. This is what my dogs' lives must be like. Eat, sleep, poop. We're all just spinning through space on this floating rock we call Earth and hoping we can hang on. It looks like Mother Nature is really mad at us and she's keeping us grounded until we learn our lesson. It's hard to say if we will. We are creatures of habit.

I wish I could say that I will see everyone soon.


Sunday, April 5, 2020

Holy Sh$$t! COVID-19


A lot has happened since we last spoke. I've been doing the "busy" thing like everyone else in the world until now. Now we are all at home and waiting out one one the freakiest and unsettling thing since 9/11. I am going to say a lot of things that many of us can relate to. I will also preface that this is from my perspective. If you read this and plan to make a disparaging comment then you are just an asshole. We all need words of encouragement right now.

In the years leading up to this moment I had been going to a lot of therapy. It turns out that after my Mom had passed away I was suffering from PTSD. When I think of what that is I mostly think about soldiers who went to war and came back with mental trauma after seeing more destruction and violence than any one person should. There are loads of stories of men returning from war who are no longer the same. It never occurred to me that a lay person such as myself would endure PTSD of any kind. I had adversity as child and learned to cope with that but when Mom died I began to experience crippling moments, moments that left me sitting in my driveway waiting for my husband to come home because I physically could not enter into our home anymore. I got nervous if I sat in the living room by myself. I didn't  want to be home by myself. I carried around feelings of angst and I didn't like to eat because my stomach was in knots. Sirens from an ambulance made me cry and I drank every night just to try and numb any feeling whatsoever. It was truly a dark time in my life.

I got better. I learned what my triggers were. The last flight I took was pleasant and I didn't have a panic attack at all for the first time in years. I felt brave. I had just opened a salon and lost my Dad in the same time frame but with the tools from my therapist, I was able to cope and I began to grow a business. In fact, one of the last conversations I had with my Dad he told me he was proud that I was so successful. His exact words were, "You are a true success." While I faced many challenges, I had the tools to face the adversity as it came.

Of course my false sense of security was knocked right out from under me, as it was for all of us, just a few weeks ago. I myself dismissed this pandemic at first. I mean, why would we freak out? This is like the flu and we don't freak out about the flu. Then I was humbled by a salon guest who explained to me the dangers of an unknown virus and this virus in particular. Then that afternoon, the President declared a national emergency. And now, weeks later, my salon is closed. I have filed for unemployment, grants, loans, and sought out jobs I could do online. Suddenly I am without an in income. I am now hoping against all hope for a miracle and that I will get to re-open my doors on May 1. I am not holding my breath.

As the days have progressed during this short time, the triggers that I faced when Mom passed away are resurfacing. I have had sleepless nights. I dream of planes crashing and the world ending. I cry a lot. I try to be an optimist but I am failing. PTSD is strong and it sneaks in faster than a bullet. Every day is a challenge. I try to keep a routine. I walk my dogs. I've been cleaning my house and calling my salon guests, I have also been reaching out to friends giving and receiving words of comfort. We're all in this together and that does not make me feel better. I wish it did.

To be clear, I am confused about God and faith. I have been for a while. I am trying to pray and remain open but it's hard and it doesn't make sense to me at all. If anything, sometimes being ministered to by a friend with the best if intentions leaves me with more fear and more tears. Maybe it will help. But right now it only reminds of what people said to me when both my parents died. "They're in a better place now," they all said. I'm going to admit something. All that did was piss me off at the time. I know that they meant well but in those moments, I missed each parent when they left this world. I didn't give a shit about those condolences. All I knew at the time was that they were gone and they weren't here with me. So I have been reticent to embrace God right now. And someone forcing me to when my mental state is very similar to what it was in the recent past is not helpful. In my perception, it simply negates the fear and anxiety that I am feeling. I don't want to be placated. I am grieving the life that was and I am very much in the anger and despair phase.

I want everyone who reads this to understand that I am not wallowing in self pity. I am doing what I can to keep myself busy. But what I've been mostly doing is trying to prepare and deal with each day as it comes. I don't want to be prayed with right now. If you wish to pray for me that's fine but please understand that mental health challenges are real and by telling someone in a state like mine that God has a plan does not always help. It may help later and maybe I will be open to it. But right now, I am freaking the fuck out and that's o.k. I don't have faith in our world leaders. I see them playing with our health and our lives while they continue to fatten their wallets. I am jaded and I am cynical. I have no idea how this too shall pass. I am literally taking it moment by moment.

It is my hope that this will get better. That we get through it and humanity is kinder and less divided. But right now I am guilty as well of being a part of the divide. I will work on that but for today I will live in the moment. I will do the best I can to use the tools given to me in therapy. Maybe I will feel better tomorrow. In any case, I wanted to share my thoughts those of us that are experiencing the same set of fears and doubt.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Every Day

 Every day is a struggle. As I approach the second year of mom’s passing, I have to find the strength to move forward. Some days I’m hopeful and other days I’m angry or sad. My mood shifts quickly and I feel out of control for a brief second. Letting go of some things is harder than I anticipated and I get attached to objects that aren’t Mom. I finally understand how and why people collect trinkets and items that we would perceive as junk. With every item that one attaches themselves to there is a memory that belongs to it. That memory lives within the trinkets and every time it is looked at or touched the journey brings you back. It’s hard to let go when there is a small piece of Mom still left here to haunt me.

Things make me cry more than they used to. I’m more sensitive and raw than I used to be. Maybe it’s because I can still feel her even though she’s no longer here. When I look into her bedroom she’s sitting on her bed watching television completely immersed in whatever it is that’s on the screen. When I drive down certain roads, I reach over and remember what it was like to have her in the passenger seat. I miss her with every fiber of my being and hurts from the core of my being.

I’m told that it will get better. In some ways it has. I shed a tear but its not for long and then I move forward with my day. Grief therapy has helped me to cope with day to day life. It’s giving me tools to deal with it but sometimes I feel more lost than ever. I look back and remember how much she missed her mother and I hope that they’re together.

In spite of it all I will continue to smile. I will let go of the things and I will live life in this moment because it’s what she would have wanted. It’s what I want. I love you Mom.


Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Hometown

Many people see Las Vegas as a place of glitz and glamour. It's the city of dreams. You could walk into a casino and play the right hand or hit the right jackpot and become rich. The showgirls are beautiful and the entertainment is top notch. What happens there stays there and it's usually a lot of fun. 

For me growing up there was a whole different perspective. I went to school every day. I walked home most of the time. As a teenager I worked in the Forum Shops at Ceasar's Palace slinging candy. It was home. We did the every day stuff that everyone does only there were slot machines and fancy casinos. Mom was a teacher and my dad worked construction. My childhood really wasn't much different and I felt safe there. 

Yesterday I awoke to a tragedy that I'm still trying to wrap my head around. The headlines keep reading, "59 dead and over 500 injured." It's a scene that I watched over and over and I can hear the gunshots as if I was there. My heart breaks when I think about this tragedy and I admit that I felt comfort when I learned that all of my family and friends were safe. I know that others weren't so lucky. I know that many thought they were going to a concert. They were going to have fun and make memories and instead a memory no one hopes to have was forced upon them. 

I suppose I could pray. I'm not sure what good that would do. What's done is done and now we as a community have to clean up. In the last several months we've seen so much tragedy. We have watched countless communities ravaged by shootings, hurricanes, fires, and earthquakes. I'm not a person of huge faith so the only thing I know to do is send love and try to be a positive force in my life and in my work. I've lost complete faith in the leaders of this country but I haven't lost faith in  my fellow man. The bright shining moment through all of this tragedy is that we have once again pulled together. 

I wish I could hug my family now but they're too far. I hope against hope that we figure out how to move forward and learn from this. I wish I had words of wisdom on this blog but I don't. All I have is love and I hope...


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

To Be Humbled and Grateful...



As a stylist, you try to connect with each client. There are some that no matter how much you try, you just never get on the same page. Then there are others that you wonder if you somehow bonded in another life. One of those people for me is Hannah. She came into the salon with all her fire and awesome curly hair. I was humbled when she told how far she drove just to see me ( all the way from Brenham). It always humbles me that someone would drive down the street to see me, let alone miles and miles.

Every time I saw that she was on my books, I was always excited. We both had so much to talk about.  She is a real estate agent kicking butt and taking listings. She also listened to my sadness and my journey of grief from the loss of my mother this past year. She allowed me to be the professional I needed to be and the ear that I sometimes need even though my job is to listen. She's one of those witty and smart people that you can't help but love. When she came into the new salon space ( Sweet 101 Salon ) she was so excited for me and she loved that I had a partner in crime, Lyndsey, with me. I'm telling you, I love this chic. She truly is one of those people that smiles and you smile with her because you have to. It radiates from her soul.



Not long after the last appointment I had with her, she posted on Facebook that she was diagnosed with breast cancer. My heart broke. I have known people in my life who battled cancer and won but this one hit home for me. Maybe it's because we're not that far apart in age but mostly because she and I resonated from the beginning of our client/stylist relationship. When she learned that she would not only have to undergo a double mastectomy but also chemotherapy, she messaged me. Hannah wanted to donate her hair and she wanted me to cut it. 

I had to cry before I could even respond to her. I had not only grown to love and respect this woman, but the hairdresser in me was proud of our hair journey. But the tears came from a more visceral place. Being a hairstylist is very personal for me. Every two hours I make someone feel good. Or at least that's the end goal. Now Hannah was asking me to cut off all of her hair so that someone else could love her hair as much as she and I did. Not only was I asked to do that but she allowed Lyndsey and me to a part of their family for a day. In solidarity, her sisters Abby, Laura, and her husband Charlie, had all decided to go under the shear.



So this past Sunday afternoon, we decided to make it a party. Lyndsey and I put together a gift basket and my sweet husband, Cliff, helped us put together a small spread of snacks and sparkly drinks. We had decided that we were celebrating life. This negative thing was going to be turned into a positive thing. They were all doing the chop together. There were tears and laughter through out the day. I thought of that moment in Steel Magnolias when Truvy says, "Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion." That was exactly what we had. 

I was reminded of what it is I love about this job. There are days when I'm tired of standing and I couldn't care less about another person's want or need and then something like this knocks me back down to earth. I am blessed to be where I'm at. I'm also honored that someone thought so much of me and my friend Lyndsey, that we were invited to be a part of this amazing family for one afternoon. I'm humbled and grateful. I'm forever changed. 

"Just like moons and like suns, with the certainty of tides, just like hopes springing high, still I rise..."-Maya Angelou. 






Sunday, May 14, 2017

Since we last spoke....Happy Mother's Day

It's been quite some time since I've written. The last few months have been full of schedules, time passing, and more days of grief. I couldn't bring myself to commemorate the anniversary of Mom's passing with a blog. It just didn't seem right and then suddenly it's real. So here we are, a year and some months later and it's Mother's Day.

I wasn't sure about this Mother's Day. Through grief therapy I'm learning that I'm in the acceptance phase of grief. This basically means that it's hitting home. As I have come out of the initial fog of the first year of losing Mom, the reality is setting in. Truly setting in. The second year is the reminder that it's for real. I've heard everyone say that you have to get through all of the firsts that losing a loved one entails. For me it appears to be the seconds; the second year begins, my second birthday without her, and the second Mother's Day. It's the one where I'm sober and not inbibing in a bottle of wine to masque the sorrow.

But I didn't wallow today. Instead, I spent Mother's Day celebrating with friends at a lovely brunch. Then Cliff and I rounded out the day by attending the wedding of two people that we have come to know and love over the years. They finally made it legal today. In between events I talked and text with family in the effort of spreading love and joy. I honored Mom by doing what she taught me to do; love. I unconditionally loved today. I would like to think that somewhere Mom is watching and smiling because I did what she taught me to do.

I miss her so much it makes my whole body ache. Some days, there aren't even tears, just fatigue and an empty heart. I see friends who still have their moms and I feel a little envy. Then I hope they know how precious their time is with their mom. Still, I trudge on and I live every day for me and for her. I do what I can to carry on her legacy and the legacy of moms everywhere. She is ever present and always with me.

Happy Mother's Day Mom. Stay in the light where you belong.